A tech startup wants people to ditch IKEA and rent their furniture instead. Is this a good deal?


A San Francisco furniture startup called Oliver Space has set up warehouses in a handful of cities full of sleek sofas, dining tables, and other trendy furniture.

The company has modernized the process of buying – and renting – furniture, promising delivery in as little as three days. The quality (and price) of the furniture is in line with companies like West Elm. But Oliver Space offers a few options for those who don’t want to shell out big bucks for trendy furniture that they might not need in the long run.

The startup allows customers to rent and trade items according to their needs or preferences, or rent them out with no interest.

Founder Chan Park, a former Uber director overseeing Asian territories, said he got the idea for Oliver Space by renting a stylish furnished apartment in Singapore. He had stayed in furnished places before, but this one was elegantly designed.

“I could be proud of my space and enjoy it more,” Park said. “I wanted to receive my friends and family more often and cook more at home. It was then that the light bulb lit up in my head.

People want something better than shoddy, disposable furniture, he said. But for those who move frequently for job opportunities, like Park did early in his career, it’s hard to reinvest in beautiful furniture that might not work in your next space or phase of life.

On average, Americans move 11.7 times a year, according to 2007 Census Bureau data (the most recent of its kind). Today that number may seem much higher, as millennials are known to more than any other generation before them.

Park said he couldn’t compare Oliver Space with older furniture rental stores. The demographic they target is different, and so are the products.

“Our catalog is very modern, contemporary and stylish,” Park said. “I think it’s a completely different dynamic.

In addition to appealing to those who appreciate modern and trendy aesthetics, the company also has ecology on its side. Every year, Americans dump millions of tons of furniture and furnishings in landfills, and the rate is rising rapidly thanks to quick furniture made by companies like IKEA.

In 2018, Americans destroyed 12.1 million tonnes of furniture, up from 2.2 million tonnes in 1960, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“This is due to the proliferation of disposable furniture and the passing consumer,” Park said. “They don’t get disposable furniture because they want it. They do it because they have no other choice.

Here’s how Oliver Space works. Buyers use the company’s website to choose unique items or design entire rooms with not only furniture, but also artwork, lamps and more. The consumer can rent items (for example, a sofa can be rented for as little as $ 33 per month), rent with option to buy with 0% interest rate, or purchase the item directly. The total price of sofas and sectional sofas at Oliver Space is usually under $ 2,000. Park said the company can compete with prices in places like West Elm due to its lack of middlemen and physical stores.

Buyers can also use an item for as long as they want and then return it when the item no longer meets their needs and exchange it for something different.

Oliver Space refurbishes every item that returns to its warehouse, thoroughly cleaning and repairing the goods. Park said many of his items are things that don’t wear out easily, like wooden TV consoles and wall art.

The pandemic fueled great growth for the company, as furniture purchases skyrocketed, supply chains slowed at traditional retail outlets, and orders began to take months and months to be completed. delivered to customers.

Oliver Space has local warehouses and can deliver in as little as three days.

The startup, founded in 2018, has just raised $ 13 million in venture capital, bringing the total amount raised to $ 21 million. Park said Oliver Space is not yet profitable.

“This industry is ripe for innovation,” Park said. “We provide a different experience that consumers deserve. “

The company currently operates in San Francisco, San Diego, Orange County, California, Dallas, Austin, Texas and Seattle.


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